What to plant for forage?

DawnCols

Songster
9 Years
Dec 17, 2010
165
8
103
I'm looking to plant one or two things in my back yard for my tiny flock to graze on.

Here are my criteria:

* Low maintenance. I don't want to harvest, process, cook . . . I want to let the chickens wander through and help themselves.
* Nutritious. I want it to supplement their feed.

Bonus: Grows well in shade. Most of the sunny spots are designated for the vegetable garden.
Bonus: Attractive and/or beneficial to the vegetable garden.

Please share your experience with me
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Thanks!
Dawn
 

dottysfarm

Chirping
9 Years
Jun 22, 2010
66
1
84
Eau Claire, WI
Last year I had planted spring wheat in a corner of my garden. The chickens love it. What they don't eat should re-seed itself? Anyway, when I had run out of feed at one point last summer I just let the chickens into the garden to eat away at the wheat. They had the time of their lives.
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Lisa202

Songster
9 Years
Aug 20, 2010
718
13
133
Long Island NY
this is just a guess, but what about wheat grass? I'm growing some in a plastic container in my kitchen without any soil....just some water and it has grown great. You would have to keep replacing it, since they would eat root and all, but then you would have to do that with anything I suppose.
 

DawnCols

Songster
9 Years
Dec 17, 2010
165
8
103
Spring wheat sounds like a great idea, thanks dottysfarm. It's nice to know you've already tried it with success.

Dandelions I have
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, but I haven't noticed the chickens take an interest in them. They love sourgrass (or what I always called sourgrass. I just learned it's actually "common yellow woodsorrel".)

Wheat grass sounds interesting. I'll have to read up on it.

Anyone have thoughts on buckwheat for my purposes?
Please keep the comments coming.
 

WoodlandWoman

Crowing
12 Years
May 8, 2007
5,717
80
283
Wisconsin
Dark leafy greens like chard, kale, spinach, leaf lettuce, collards, turnips, mustard or beets are always a great choice. My chickens have always loved to eat greens like this. I haven't tried the mustard or collards for them, yet, but others have had success with them. Mine have loved all the others. It's definitely something they can just graze on. If you plant a lot and the chickens don't eat it all, you can just leave it growing. I protect it while it's tiny and most vulnerable.

Chard comes in different colors, including a rainbow mix, which I think are very pretty. It also takes warmer weather better than spinach or lettuce, as well as being cold tolerant. It's very tasty cooked in a little butter, too. I cook the stem pieces for a minute or so first, then pop in the greens.

Buckwheat or any of the grain grasses are good, like wheat, oats, etc. You can also plant some flax. Chickens like grasses in the short, tender and lush stage. If the chickens don't eat it down enough, then you can either mow it, to keep it more tender and lush or let it go to seed.

Some legumes are always good, like a little clover or alfalfa to nibble on. That adds a little more protein, in addition to all the other nutrients.

I grow tomatoes for my chickens. Mine don't bother the tomato foliage, probably because they have so many other things to eat. In addition to the tomatoes I grow for us, I also always plant cherry tomatoes for the chickens. Okay, I eat some of theirs, if I plant enough that I get some, too.
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They also love berries of any kind and grapes. They will jump in the air to pick their own, once they find out how yummy they are. Really, they love all foods!
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